Spacecraft testing specifications differ greatly in the criteria they specify for stability in thermal balance tests. Some specify a required temperature stabilization rate (the change in temperature per unit time, dT/dt), some specify that the final steady-state temperature be approached to within a specified difference, delta T , and some specify a combination of the two. The particular values for temperature stabilization rate and final temperature difference also vary greatly between specification documents. A one-size-fits-all temperature stabilization rate requirement does not yield consistent results for all test configurations because of differences in thermal mass and heat transfer to the environment. Applying a steady-state temperature difference requirement is problematic because the final test temperature is not accurately known a priori, especially for powered configurations. In the present work, a simplified, lumped-mass analysis has been used to explore the applicability of these criteria. A new, user-friendly, physics-based approach is developed that allows the thermal engineer to determine when an acceptable level of temperature stabilization has been achieved. The stabilization criterion can be predicted pre-test but must be refined during test to allow verification that the defined level of temperature stabilization has been achieved.